San Sebastian Vintners Red

Maker: San Sebastian, St. Augustine, Florida, USA

Grape: Muscadine

Region: Florida

ABV: 11%

Appearance: Deep burgundy, with broad, thick legs.

Nose: Slightly musky, foxy, sweet.

On the palate: Sweet, but not cloying. Foxy grapes, clove, ginger, black licorice.

Finish: Gingery with a bit of sweetness and long, sexy, leathery tannins.

Parting words: Muscadine is a native American grape, Vitis rotundifolia. It’s so distinct, even from its American cousins, that it has its own subgenus, muscadinia. Unlike Northern and European grapes, it thrives in hot humid climates, and was a favorite wine and table grape in the Southeastern US from the 18th century on. Its skin is also very thick, it’s the only table grape that needs to be peeled to be eaten.

This is the first Muscadine wine I’ve ever had. I enjoy foxy wines made from native grape cultivars and hybrids, but I wasn’t prepared for a wine of this intensity of flavor. The more I drank, the more I liked it. But be warned, if you do not like foxy flavors in your wine (think Concord Grape juice), you will hate just about anything made with Muscadine.

I’m writing this in South Florida, a landscape that has been completely transformed over the past century to the point where it bears no resemblance to what it was for most of its history. San Sebastian Vintners Red is a link to the past, the colonial past and the ancient past of what’s now the American South. I think that’s pretty cool, but I also think it’s a pretty good wine. San Sebastian Vintners Red is recommended.